An Excellent Book That I Thought Was Only a Movie

Some of the most indelibly etched memories of my life are the weird rainy days of childhood, when wherever it was they had stuck you—be it camp or school—had to come up with something to do rather than just let you wander around outside due to the weather.

1941FirstEditionBookCover

I think they showed us this in camp. All my memories of the actual context—my age, the year, my friends—have vanished, but my memories of the movie (the boy melting the lead to create ballast for the canoe and pouring it in, the way the canoe shook a little when it bobbed on the water) are clear and wordless.
I was so very pleased when this book found its way into our hands, courtesy of Diana's and Chestnut's father (and his father). He had known this only through the book, and for some reason we were mostly able to avoid the "the book was way better, I bet the movie sucked" "No, the movie…" sort of thing. Instead I got to read it with both Chestnut and Diana, and to see that it held the same strange lure.
Why is it so good? Why is it so very compelling to find out what happened to the canoe, and where it goes? It's full of all this factual information but something about the very baldness of the presentation renders it interesting rather than off-putting. It's wonderful.
Maybe everyone has read this, and I was the only one who didn't know it was a book? But if you haven't read it, do.

5 thoughts on “An Excellent Book That I Thought Was Only a Movie

  1. I’ve never heard of this, book or movie. But it sounds like the kind of thing I really would like. I was already planning a trip to the bookstore this weekend. I’ll check this one out; thanks!

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  2. This really was the most important book for me when I was a kid, and though it didn’t cast a strong spell on my daughters, I suspect little boys will love it still. Maps of lakes, details of carving and weighing, current systems, old fashioned logging, it’s got it all . . .

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  3. There was a movie? Huh.
    Thanks for reminding me of this–it keeps popping into my head as something my daughter would like, but then I forget about it. She’s had lots of questions about the Great Lakes lately…

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  4. Wow! After a visit to his parents’ house, my husband returned clutching this book to his chest, saying it was his favorite kids’ book ever. I’m sure I disappointed him terribly by saying I’d never heard of it, but it wouldn’t have appealed to my fantasy-loving self back in the day.

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